WASHINGTON – Anthony L. Dinunzio, 53, of East Boston, Mass., the acting leader of the New England La Cosa Nostra (NELCN) crime family, pleaded guilty today for his role in a conspiracy to extort protection payments from adult entertainment businesses in Rhode Island, according to a signed plea agreement filed today in U.S. District Court in Providence, R.I.
The plea agreement was announced by Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; Peter F. Neronha, U.S. Attorney for the District of Rhode Island; Richard Deslauriers, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Boston Field Office; Colonel Steven G. O’Donnell, Superintendent of the Rhode Island State Police; and Providence Public Safety Commissioner Steven M. Pare.
“Today, Anthony Dinunzio admitted to serving as a leader of the New England La Cosa Nostra, a criminal organization that, while under his control, extorted business owners throughout Rhode Island,” said Assistant Attorney General Breuer. “Dinunzio is the eighth member of the NELCN to plead guilty for his role in the alleged mafia conspiracy that harmed its community for two decades, and this plea is a crucial step in the Justice Department’s fight to dismantle the NELCN.”
“Prosecutorial offices, when they are at their best, build cases. And not just any cases, but impactful cases. This case is one of those cases,” said U.S. Attorney Neronha. “Through their painstaking hard work, the prosecutors, agents and detectives have decimated organized crime in Rhode Island and, with this plea today, have removed its leader in Boston.”
“Mr. Dinunzio’s guilty plea based on the evidence gathered by the FBI and our law enforcement partners shows undeniably we have shattered Omerta, the New England LCN’s code of silence,” said Special Agent in Charge DesLauriers. “Our persistent, methodical, and unyielding investigation of those who are part of the LCN and other new national and transnational organized crime groups emerging from every corner of the globe will not stop.”
Dinunzio pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge William E. Smith in the District of Rhode Island to one count of conspiracy to participate in a racketeering enterprise (RICO). At sentencing, scheduled for Nov. 14, 2012, Dinunzio faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.
According to the signed plea agreement, Dinunzio was a member and leader of the NELCN from at least 2002, as charged in a superseding indictment returned on April 24, 2012. Dinunzio admitted committing multiple acts of extortion and knowingly assisted in the charged criminal racketeering conspiracy through the oversight and receipt of monthly protection payments, paid in cash by the owners and operators of certain adult entertainment businesses in Rhode Island. Dinunzio also admitted to obstructing or impeding the administration of justice by, among other methods, attempting to influence, delay or prevent witness testimony related to the investigation and prosecution of NELCN members.
The superseding indictment alleges that Dinunzio participated with other alleged members and associates of NELCN in a racketeering conspiracy in which monthly cash payments for protection of $2,000 to $6,000 were demanded of the owners and operators of several adult entertainment businesses in Rhode Island.
To date, seven leaders, underbosses, members or associates of the NELCN have pleaded guilty and been sentenced to federal prison for their involvement in the alleged racketeering and extortion conspiracy to extort protection payments from adult entertainment businesses and individuals in Rhode Island during the past two decades. Admitted NELCN crime boss Luigi “Louie” Manocchio is serving a sentence of 66 months in prison. Edward “Eddy” Lato, an admitted capo, is serving a sentence of 108 months in prison. Alfred “Chippy” Scivola, an admitted NELCN member, is serving a sentence of 46 months in prison. Admitted NELCN associates Richard Bonifiglia, 58, and Albino “Albie” Folcarelli, 54, are both serving sentences of 84 months in prison. Raymond “Scarface” Jenkins is serving a sentence of 37 months in prison. And Thomas Iafrate is serving a sentence of 30 months in prison.
A ninth defendant, Theodore Cardillo, 69, has entered a plea of not guilty to three counts each of RICO conspiracy and extortion conspiracy and is awaiting trial.
An indictment is merely an allegation and is not evidence of guilt. A defendant is entitled to a fair trial in which it will be the government’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
The cases are being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney William J. Ferland of the District of Rhode Island and Trial Attorney Sam Nazzaro of the Criminal Division’s Organized Crime and Gang Section. The matter was investigated by the FBI, the Rhode Island State Police and the Providence Police Department.